NEWSLETTER

January 2001 Regional Reporter

Redistricting

How to cover the map != drawing from Washington

By Marc Heller
Watertown Daily Times

Results from the 2000 census are rolling in, leading to the reshuffling of congressional districts the Constitution requires every 10 years. How is a regional reporter in Washington to cover the story?

In many ways, redistricting is a state capital story, since state legislatures draw the districts. That can lead to some conflict or cooperation with your paper's state legislative reporters, but there are still plenty of angles to think about from the nation's capital.

Number one for my New York newspaper is the effect of losing two districts in the state. Rep. Amo Houghton (R-NY) summed up the pain of redistricting recently when he told Roll Call "I realize that two (representatives) are going to have to take a bath, but I just don't want to be one of them. I'm clean enough already."

If your state is like New York, different regions have distinct cultures or characteristics != rural or urban, black or white, rich or poor. Lawmakers get very nervous when the constituency they're accustomed to is about to change, so they'll often argue that redistricting could ruin their region's identity.

In Northern New York, for instance, we have one of the biggest congressional districts in the nation, and it's just about all rural and Republican. With Vermont on one side, Canada on another and Lake Ontario on another, our congressman is boxed in != the only way his district can get the necessary territory is to expand to the south into suburban or urban areas more likely to lean Democratic. That's not a strong incentive to run for re-election.

Unfortunately for members of Congress, preserving a region's identity is not the big factor in drawing new districts. It's politics. Redistricting commissions try to protect incumbents. But what if they have to choose between incumbents? The incumbents with the best ties to the state capital have the best shot at keeping their districts relatively intact.

Look for who contributes the most money to state political committees. Does your lawmaker keep regular contacts in the state capital? Did he or she serve in the state legislature before coming to Congress? How closely is your governor involved in the process, and which members of Congress from the state are closest to him or her?

Longevity in Congress isn't necessarily the determining factor. In New York, Rep. John E. Sweeney, R, is a second-termer. But he's a product of the Albany GOP machine, and the common view is he'll get favorable treatment. In New York, Rep. Houghton was quite obvious about the subject. He campaigned in 2000 on a pledge to save his rural district and contributed to GOP candidates for the state Senate, the Republican-controlled chamber that has the real power over reapportionment.

So far, the Census Bureau has only released state population totals. County-by-county figures will be ready in March. But I've already done a few stories about the possible election maps in New York, using the Census Bureau's population estimates from 1999. If you figure out how many more or fewer residents your lawmakers will need in their districts, you can use those estimates to get an idea how the lines might change. It's simplistic but illustrates the challenge for mapmakers.

There are broader Washington angles, too. If your paper or papers are in Texas, you've got a good story about that state's increased influence in Congress. Texas gains two seats. Other southern and western states are gaining, as well. If you're from the Northeast, look for a little less clout after the next House election. Pennsylvania, like New York, loses two seats. Will close votes on issues dear to that region -- dairy compacts, acid rain and so forth -- now tip to region's disfavor?

Time will tell.




Moving in: Bush Sr., Clinton insiders recount transition tales

By Lisa Friedman
Oakland Tribune

So many new people to cover.

So many new scandals to uncover.

That's the way Sheila Tate, the elder George Bushs transition press secretary, framed the next few years for Washington reporters when she, USA Today reporter Kathy Kiely and former Bill Clinton chief of staff Mack McLarty spoke to Washington reporters at the National Press Club earlier this month.

Outlining the challenges of being on the inside of a presidential transition and covering it from the outside, the panelists said the coming months promise to be awash in stories for regional reporters.

"The first day that I walked into the chief of staff office, all the photos were removed, all the files were removed," McLarty recalled.

"It's very odd to walk into the White House and not have a scrap of paper," added Tate.

Over the coming months, the Bush Administration will be making 7,300 political appointments, about 1,100 of which require Senate confirmation, McLarty said.

Any of those could result in juicy stories for regionals, Kiely said, advising reporters to keep abreast of potential hometown nominees by staying in regular contact with your congressional delegation.

Tate said the new White House will undoubtedly do what every Administration does != leak names of potential nominees. Every press secretary grouses about how the media floats candidates names too early but the reality, she said, is that the White House counts on name leaks as a back-up vetting process.

"You will get feedback. You will hear about problems you might not have heard about on your own," she acknowledged.

She sympathized with regional reporters who, unlike national reporters "werent in that top level of press getting those individual briefings," and suggested working around the system by leaning on "old timers" from former administrations to explain processes.

And from news about the family pets to Laura Bushs dress, inauguration coverage, panelists said, can provide reams of coverage for regionals.

"The history of the inaugural is replete with a lot of great small stories," said Tate.

Here are some of their suggestions:

  • Preparations: How is Washington getting ready for the big day? Speak to department store buyers about the types of ball gowns Washingtonians are buying this year and hotel chefs about what food is in demand.

  • Local folks: Youll want to work with the inaugural committee to keep abreast of any hometown people who have a role in the parade. Talk to local Republican groups to find out who is attending from your state, where they're staying and what celebrations theyll be attending.

  • Wretched excess: always a good one. And there's sure to be plenty of it to cover.

  • Follow the Money: Every state will be having a party, as will many members of Congress. Who's underwriting the events? Reporting this one will be a lot like finding out who paid for national convention events, Kiely said. Companies aren't required to make their donations public, but chances are theyll want politicians to know about their generosity and post their names someplace.

  • Spend the day shadowing someone from your area who will be involved in the new Administration. Tell the story of the inaugural through their eyes.
  • "By working smart you can get some great stories," Kiely said. And, she urged, lose the cynicism. "Don't lose sight of the fact that this is an extraordinary moment for a lot of people," she said.



    Covering inaugural ceremonies

    The nuts and bolts of inaugural coverage from USA TODAY reporter Kathy Kiely:

  • Wear comfortable shoes with thick soles. "Youre going to be doing a lot of walking and standing on concreteof hand warmers. Use them. Give them to your colleagues.

  • Bring newspapers. You'll need something to put under your butt.

  • Bring binoculars. You might not be able to sit close enough to see the ceremonies without them.

  • Chose one inaugural party and focus your coverage on that. Events are too spread out over the city to cover many things well.

  • Bring No. 2 pencils. "Ink doesn't run very well in temperatures below 30 degrees."



  • Basics of covering Capitol Hill

    Larry Lipman of the Cox Newspapers and Elaine Povich of Newsday discussed the critical basics of covering Capitol Hill.

    "The wonderful thing about covering Congress is that it's the last real place in Washington where you can walk up to the people you cover and question them directly," said Povich.

    Some of their tips:

  • Remember that there are always two, and usually three to four sides of every story in Washington. Finding those points of view should be easy. Practically every cause has a lobbyist, a trade association or a spokesperson eager to fill you in on their side of the story. "Congress is a teeming fishbowl of people with opposing views," said Povich. "Theres no excuse for not finding an opposing view on Capitol Hill."

  • Get to know staffers. They often won't talk on the record, but they can provide valuable background information and insight on issues. "They can be your best friends," said Lipman.

  • Know where and how to find members of Congress. Seek out the Speaker's Lobby off the House floor and use it. There you can fill out a card and request that your member come out to talk. They might not agree, but you can always try to catch them in the hallways after a vote. "The best thing about covering Capitol Hill is these people must come out of their offices. They must emerge," Povich said, adding that the Speaker's Lobby after a vote is invaluable for buttonholing a bunch of politicians quickly.

  • Hang out. "It may not sound like an efficient use of time, but it is," said Povich. "You get to know people. You get to know their habits."



  • The Virtual Congress

    Thomas: House and Senate bill texts, summaries, Congressional Record (searchable by word) www.thomas.loc.gov

    House: members, committees, floor schedule, etc. www.house.gov

    House Press Gallery: Excellent info about Congress; party breakdown, salaries, caucuses www.house.gov/daily/hpg.htm

    Current House Floor Action: clerkweb.house.gov/floor/current.htm

    Republican press releases: Individual members' releases www.gop.gov

    House calendar: Majority Whip's Office www.majoritywhip.house.gov/calendar.asp

    Senate: members, committees, floor schedule, etc. www.senate.gov

    Senate Press Gallery: Credentials, roll calls, press secretaries www.senate.gov/galleries

    Republican Policy Committee: Legislative notices and GOP policy papers www.senate.gov/~rpc/

    Democratic Policy Committee: Legislative notices and Democratic policy papers www.senate.gov/~dpc/

    Senate Republican Conference: Spin central for GOP Senate issues www.senate.gov/~src

    Joint Committee on Taxation: Fiscal impact of budget, tax and spending bills. www.house.gov/jct/

    Congressional Research Service: Non-partisan Library of Congress issue analyses (Reports provided by the National Council for Science and the Environment) www.cnie.org/nle/crs_main.html

    General Accounting Office: GAO reports; subscribe to daily e-mail alerts www.gao.gov

    Congressional Budget Office: CBO reports www.cbo.gov

    Compiled by Larry Lipman/ Palm Beach Post/Cox Newspapers




    Getting off the Hill

    By Bill Hillburg
    Los Angeles Newspaper Group

    Panelists Mike Doyle (McClatchy), Sylvia Smith (Fort Wayne Journal-Gazette) and Lee Davidson (Deseret News) advised reporters to adopt the mindset of a foreign correspondent, get off the Internet, dump the usual suspects and dig deep into archives to come up with fresh news for readers back home.

    Doyle strongly advised gaining familiarity with the stacks and files at the Library of Congress and the National Archives outlets in College Park and Silver Spring. In his career, Doyle has turned up valuable background on child farm labor hearings dating from the 1920s and battlefield records that debunked a Californian's claims of glory.

    Doyle also suggested there are story ideas aplenty at the Court of Federal Claims. It has documents on citizens' claims against the federal government, both valid and hare-brained. And, once a news luminary has gone to the land of the dearly departed and libel-free, he suggested filing a Freedom of Information Act request with the FBI for what could prove to be an entertaining file.

    Smith said she has found success by taking on the attitude of a foreigner (Hoosier) in a strange land. In an admission that could depress would-be Watergate-style sleuths, Smith revealed that one of her best-loved dispatches from D.C. was a detailed report on how a family of four could spend a 3 days touring the Nation's Capital for under $500.

    Smith also tipped that the Archives is equipped with historical photos on thousands of topics to illustrate stories for graphics-obsessed editors back in the newsroom. She also urged reporters to keep an eye out for offbeat topics like the cutthroat competitions to draw the winning fowl for the federal duck stamp.

    Lee Davidson offered his "Lazy Man's Guide to Investigative Reporting," which consists of extracting juicy story leads and facts via FOIAs and other sources. Artful digging has allowed Davidson to let his readers in on such unreported outrages as nerve gas testing in Utah during World War II. Records also showed the lethal agents were to be used on the Japanese if the atomic bomb failed to do the trick.

    His favorite ploy is making FOIA requests "from top to bottom" when targeting a potential story. When Davidson dug into the doings at an Air Force Base in Utah, he filed identical requests with the Pentagon, several Air Force command levels and the base's on-site brass. He noted that all respondents redacted the sets of documents he was given, but that each took a slightly different approach toward official secrecy. Davidson was able to piece together the resulting jigsaw puzzle and get all of the facts.

    Davidson also suggested requesting and combing alumni lists from college back home to compile lists of potential localizing sources who have made good != or bad != in Washington.




    Interviewing 101: Asking the right questions at the right time

    By Angela Greiling
    Small Newspaper Group

    Veteran Washington reporters Jim Rosen (McClatchy) and David Von Drehle (Washington Post) briefed journalists on their time-honored interviewing techniques.

    Both hammered home the message that reporters need not be afraid of asking questions. That mantra applies, they said, regardless of whether the reporter is asking the same question for the umpteenth time or whether the question may appear stupid or simple to others.

    Von Drehle said an interview about gathering information rather than quotes. Leaving an interview with one or two dynamite quotes is all that is needed, he said.

    Among his other tips:

  • Mirror your interview subject's mannerisms and manner of speaking during an interview. "The great interviewer is the same as the great dinner party companion," he said. "If somebody's all business, you want to be all business. If somebody's kidding around, you want to be kidding around."

  • Don't avoid silence during an interview. Let the interviewee fill it.

  • Never put your notebook away until after you leave an interview.

  • If interviewing for a profile, ask to see a subject's personal space (ie., refrigerator, bedroom, etc.)
  • Regarding the interview itself, Rosen suggested flattering hard-to-draw-out interview subjects. Von Drehle said he would ask similar subjects leading questions that could not be answered with "yes/no" replies.

    The bottom line, they agreed, is to be a confident interviewer who is not afraid to ask any question to any person.




    What makes the perfect profile? Digging, digging, digging

    By Jennifer Sergent
    Scripps Howard News Service

    From Mel Gibson to Karl Rove, Bruce Willis to Ralph Nader, and Arnold Schwarzennegger to Al and Tipper Gore, freelance writer Tom Dunkel and New York Times reporter Melinda Henneberger offered their tips on how to write a great profile.

    Great profiles might be easy to read, but writing them is hard work, Henneberger said. And while it doesn't necessarily matter how many people you talk to for a profile, you must keep finding people until they seem to say the same thing over and over again about your subject.

    Keep in mind that it's a big responsibility, parachuting into someone's life and trying to make sense of it in one piece of writing, Dunkel said.

    He calls it the "dickhead responsibility," after a profile he wrote on former Redskins coach Norv Turner. Turner turned to Dunkel at one point and said, "you're not going to make me look like a dickhead, are you?"

    The point: don't take things out of context.

    Both writers told reporters at the writing conference hosted by the Regional Reporters Association and the National Press Club that reporting for an effective profile means getting the subject in as many different situations as possible, to see different sides of their personality. They're probably more relaxed at home than in the office, for example.

    Here are some tips from Melinda and Tom:

  • Do lots of background research before you begin.

  • If the subject has written anything, like a book, read it.

  • Talk to EVERYONE. Don't assume close friends and family members are useless. Don't be afraid to ask secondary sources for names of other people you might want to contact for your story.

  • Spend every moment you can with the subject -- one unstaged or unscripted moment might be especially revealing about the person.

  • We tend to leave some of the best stuff out. Tell what you know.

  • Don't stick with the script on someone. i.e. don't just presume that Dan Quayle is dumb or Al Gore is stiff.

  • If you listen enough, they will really tell you who they are.

  • No matter how good the anecdote about someone, don't use it if it doesn't make the central point of who the person is, or if the anecdote can't reflect the lead of your story.

  • Unless you find something you like about the person, you can't empathize with them enough to write a good profile.

  • Don't make a pal. Don't write as if you want a dinner invitation. On the other hand, don't go in with any agenda or purpose to make a statement about someone. Guard against losing your objectivity in either direction.

  • Establish a good rapport with the gatekeepers _ the staffers, the press secretary, etc., because they control the access. But don't let them control you.

  • Don't smother the subject, especially if he or she is a media "virgin." Respect his or her privacy. You don't always need to hang on their sleeve.

  • From Melinda: never put your notebook away. From Tom: be discreet about note-taking at first, and when you gain more confidence, then you can be more overt with your notebook.

  • Save the formal sit-down interview for the end of the process, especially if you have tough questions to ask. You don't want to tick them off until after the bulk of your reporting is done.

  • Don't think you're writing THE definitive profile. There's nothing wrong with delivering a snapshot in time as opposed to a portrait for the ages.



  • Following the money

    By Ken Maguire
    Lowell Daily Sun

    Reporters "following the money" should thank Al Gore for inventing the Internet, because without several invaluable Web sites they'd be forced to spend days looking up who gave how much to whom and when, not to mention what it all means.

    Fortunately, www.fec.gov, www.opensecrets.org and www.fecinfo.com does all that work for you. The sites are vital resources for anyone tracking money in politics, according to veteran reporters and founders of the sites who spoke at a recent journalism conference.

    Reporters are free to use information from the sites, as long as they give credit.

    Associated Press reporter Jonathan D. Salant said the sites allow him to research a wide variety of money stories. For example, year-end campaign contribution reports are due Jan. 31, and stories await, like who has been raising money since Election Day? And who is in debt?

    Orlando Sentinel reporter Tammy Lytle said she once wrote a story about a wealthy lawmaker who paid himself back on a campaign loan before paying back the "little guys," such as photographers and others. She quoted them for the story.

    Kent Cooper, who started fecinfo.com two years ago, said there are lots of stories regarding "soft money," which is unlimited.

    Many politicians have their own political action committees that raise soft money.

    Cooper, who worked for the Federal Election Commission for 22 years, said it's worth knowing exactly who is raising the money - is it the politician or a lobbyist? "Find out the people factor in the movement of soft money," he said.

    Tracking tips

    Tips from Associated Press reporter Jonathan D. Salant. Ten Things to Look For on Jan. 31:

  • How much money the winners raised. Compare to the last election.

  • How much money the winners have in the bank for the next election

  • How much money the challengers raised. Where any of them competitive?

  • Whos in debt?

  • Who has been raising money since Election Day? From whom? Did any of the donors give to the losing candidate before the election?

  • Where did the incumbent get his or her money from? How did this compare to the lawmakers committee assignments?

  • Were the lawmakers sources of money different from 1998? Check especially people who became committee chairs for the first time in the last Congress and those who switched committees.

  • Did the lawmaker have a leadership PAC? If yes, who gave? Are they the same people or PACs who gave to the re-election committee?

  • What did the lawmaker or challenger spend his or her money on?

  • Which lawmakers did the local companies PACs back? Why? Did they boost their giving compared with the last election?



  • The essentials in a writing toolbox

    By John Aubuchon
    Newsnight Maryland

    One of the nation's foremost writing teachers and coaches brought a writing toolbox he's accumulated over two decades to the RRA-NPC Journalism Conference.

    Roy Peter Clark, founding director of the National Writers Workshop and senior scholar at the Poynter Institute, offetinct approaches that have their own places in Washington journalism.

    Writing for information, Clark said, requires a set of tools designed to make things clear. His key tools here are:

  • Pace: The writer controls the pace of information, slowing down at times, to aid comprehension.

  • Translate: Either replace technical terms with common language, or teach the word. Numbers: The fewer, the better.

  • Impact: Communicate directly the impact and relevance of government action; de-emphasize process and bureaucracy.

  • Unclutter: Avoid "suitcase" leads that pack in everything you've got.
  • Writing for experience is how Clark described stories designed to put a reader into an event, whether its an encounter with a politician or a businessmans lobbying trip to Washington.

    Here, Clark said, is where one wants scenic construction, details that reveal character and personality, and reality rendered from several points of view. Consider it a true story, Clark suggested, with characters, action, setting, chronology, motive and narrative.

    Deadline writing offers specific challenges, and Clark offered a specific flow or process to meet them.

    First, he advised, search for the main idea or ideas of the story. Then collect the information (e.g., attend the hearing or presser). Determine the focus. Select the key points and detail, and order them. Then draft, revise and clarify. The key, he said, is focus, and "on deadline, you need to find your focus while youre still in the field."




    Figuring out the federal agencies

    By Carl Weiser
    Gannett News Service

    When it comes to covering a federal agency, Associated Press education writer Anjetta McQueen, said there are three important things to watch: How does it spend its money? How does it make and enforce its rules? And how does it conduct its research?

    She advised figuring out which congressional committees have jurisdiction over that agency, and finding the agency watchdogs, both official (Inspector General; General Accounting Office) and unofficial (think tanks, interest groups).

    It's also important to keep track of the Secretary's schedule and whereabouts. And, just for fun, McQueen suggested, run his or her name through court database searches.

    Bloomberg News transportation writer Ripley Watson stressed accuracy, for your own credibility and self-esteem. Read the trade journals and talk to lobbyists. Do offbeat stories, as Watson did when he found salad oil had been designated a hazardous material.

    Watson reminded reporters to call and say "thank you" to helpful sources, and also to send your clips to sources to show you are important.

    For White House coverage, Business Week correspondent Rick Dunham said the best advice for regionals is to show up. As often as you can. Get your face there. Hit the policy briefings.

    Unlike congressional reporters, Dunham said, the White House press corps is cliquish and distant. That's partly because actual information is so rare and valuable. Regional reporters should get to know the regional press officers, meeting with them face to face whenever possible, he said.




    President's Report

    By Carl Weiser

    Its showtime! Regional Reporters Association briefing makes C-SPAN

    The new year has barely begun, and already the RRA has held two of its most successful events in its history.

    Susan Roth of Gannett News Service organized a Jan. 4 briefing on the transition that not only drew three fine speakers and 40 reporters, but was broadcasted and aired repeatedly on C-SPAN. We are waiting for the latest Neilson ratings, but we think the RRA event may have beaten the Golf Channel during the 3 a.m. Sunday morning time slot.

    The Oakland Tribune's Lisa Friedman and the National Press Club's Jonathan Salant put on an all-day reporting seminar Jan. 5 that drew 75 reporters to hear ten panels full of extraordinary talent and knowledge, from political columnist Jack Germond to Washington Post reporter David Von Drehle.

    While not all those attending were regionals, it was probably one of our best-attended events. In both cases, the National Press Club's assistance was vital. The club's efforts to reach out to the RRA has certainly proved fruitful.

    Next month brings the Casey Journalism Center's seminar on covering children and family issues. That should be excellent too.

    I'm working on a couple other efforts to help RRA members and the RRA's presence itself. One is a letter to George W. Bush's Press Secretary Ari Fleischer, asking for a newsmaker event with Bush, or, if that's not possible, Fleischer himself.

    I was surprised to learn at the Friday journalism conference that George Bush (the dad) had met with RRA members. I've only been a reporter in Washington for the Bill Clinton era, and I know that RRA's repeated efforts to bring in President Clinton or his press secretaries were in vain.

    We will also try to hold newsmakers with as many cabinet secretaries as we can.

    I hope all of this makes your RRA memberships worthwhile. Which reminds me, of course: Your 2001 RRA dues are due, Like the ads for Hair Cuttery say: Still only $20.

    You can send the dues to the RRA's address:

    Regional Reporters Association
    2037 National Press Building
    Washington, D.C. 20045

    or directly to me at Gannett News Service, 1000 Wilson Blvd., Arlington, VA, 22229. If you need a receipt, I'll send you one.

    As always, let me know of any concerns or ideas you have for the Regional Reporters Association. I can always be reached at cweiser@gns.gannett.com




    RRA member turns old notes from article into new book

    The Real Woodrow Wilson
    An Interview with Arthur S. Link, Editor of the Wilson Papers
    By James Robert Carroll

    Images From the Past $19.50

    By Lisa Friedman
    Oakland Tribune

    If James Carroll has one piece of advice, it's "save your notes."

    The regional reporter for Gannett News Service recently published his first book, "The Real Woodrow Wilson." It's based on interviews he conducted more than seven years ago.

    Back then Carroll, a presidential historian buff, was Washington correspondent for the Long Beach Press Telegram and wrote occasional Sunday magazine pieces for the Philadelphia Inquirer. When he learned in 1993 that Wilson historian Arthur Link was publishing the last of a series of papers he had worked on over the course of three decades, Carroll knew he wanted to capture the man's career.

    As it turned out, an afternoon of interviews in Link's North Carolina home filled Carroll's tape recorder with more information than he could use.

    "You're sitting here talking to a historian who spent his whole life with Woodrow Wilson. Doing a feature story you can only use so much of an interview, and a story can really only be so long. But I thought this was such a fascinating conversation, I'd really like to preserve it in some way," he said.

    Preserve it he did. But even as Carroll periodically toyed with the idea of doing something with his notes, he became wrapped up in other stories and assignments. The tapes sat largely untouched. Until last year, when he picked them up again and talked to the Woodrow Wilson House about the possibility of doing a project with them. They referred Carroll to a publisher in Vermont and the rest, as they say, is history.

    "It's the classic case of never throwing anything out. Save your notes, save your tapes, and cast a wide net for stories," Carroll said. "The idea of doing a book for anybody that is already doing daily journalism is daunting. When the hell are you going to find the time? But," he said, "we're telling stories already."




    ANNUAL BUDGET WORKSHOP

    Confused about how to cover the massive budget that comes out in February?

    Get tips from the experts on how to interpret the numbers at RRA's annual budget workshop at the National Press Club on Jan. 29.

    WHEN: Monday, Jan. 29 WHERE: National Press Club TIME: 9-11 a.m.

    The panel will include:

  • Carole McQuire, deputy director for the Republicans on the Senate Budget Committee
  • Richard Kogan, outgoing policy director for the Democrats on the House Budget Committee and new senior fellow at the Center for Budge and Policy Priorities
  • Bob Bixby, director of the Concord Coalition, a think tank that focuses on Social Security and budget issues
  • Stan Collender, a budget expert at Fleishman-Hillard
  • Dan Parks, a budget reporter at Congressional Quarterly



  • RESTIVE REGIONS

    Catalina Camia is taking a one-year leave of absence from the Dallas Morning News to work as a diversity fellow at the Freedom Forum. She will be replaced by Christopher Lee during that time.

    Ron Hutcheson of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram has left that job to join the Knight-Ridder national staff. At Knight-Ridder, he's covering government and politics.

    Bill Straub, formerly the Cincinnati and Kentucky Post reporter, has switched beats at Scripps Howard News Service. He is now covering politics and the White House. He's been replaced by Michael Collins, formerly of the Kentucky Post's Frankfort Bureau.

    Also at Scripps Howard, M.E. Sprengelmeyer has become the new reporter for the Denver Rocky Mountain News. He replaces Mike Romano, who took a job in Chicago. Brett Davis, the D.C. correspondent for the Huntsville Times at Newhouse News Service, has left that job to become managing editor of Aerospace Daily.

    Paul Krawzak, formerly a reporter in the CNS Chicago bureau, has joined the Washington bureau as regional correspondent for Copley News Services recently acquired Ohio newspapers -- the Canton Repository, Massillon Independent and Dover/New Philadelphia Times Reporter.

    Toby Eckert, formerly a correspondent for Copley's Illinois papers, has switched to the California regional beat, providing coverage for The San Diego Union-Tribune and Torrance Daily Breeze.

    Dori Meinert remains on the Illinois regional beat, writing for the Peoria Journal Star, Springfield State Journal-Register, Galesburg Register-Mail and Lincoln Courier.

    Got news? call Jessica Wehrman at (202)408-2705 or send it to wehrmanj@shns.com




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